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Two passenger jets almost collide at LAX

Two commercial jets — one traveling at 150 mph — nearly collided on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, officials said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Two commercial jets — one traveling at 150 mph — nearly collided on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, officials said.

The close call at about 1 p.m. appeared to have been caused by mistakes made by both the arriving pilot and a ground traffic controller, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

A WestJet Boeing 737 landing from Calgary, Canada, which seats up to 132 passengers, came as close as 50 feet (15 meters) from striking a 150-seat Northwest Airbus A320 that was taking off. The Northwest jet was traveling about 150 mph when the WestJet craft nearly taxied across its runway. The WestJet plane managed to stop just in time to avoid a crash.

No one was hurt, authorities said. An investigation was under way.

Gregor said the arriving pilot was on the wrong radio frequency and unable to receive directions from the air traffic controller. When the pilot then notified the ground traffic controller that the plane was approaching the gate, the ground controller cleared him without checking first with the air traffic controller.

The "runway incursion" was the seventh such incident at LAX this year, matching the total for all of 2006.